Election This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   Comparable only to "Go" as last year's mostoriginal comedy, Alexander Payne's "Election" supplies enough dry witand trenchant humor to place it in a category far beyond what we would expectfrom the quintessential teen comedy. While most teen movies are cast based onlooks, "Election" is one that looked for talent, and is quiterefreshing for those looking for substance in the recent abundance of low-qualityteen films.

Although Reese Witherspoon has a large role as the ambitiousand overachieving Tracy Flick, the film centers on the mundane life of teacherJim McAllister (Matthew Broderick). Every day he goes through the routine ofrunning around the track, taking a shower and preparing his lessons. The monotonyof his life is cleverly demonstrated in a scene where he is shown explaining overand over the difference between the executive, legislative and judicial branches.As he gives a lecture on morals and ethics, he seems reluctant to call on theanxious Tracy, and almost annoyed at her zeal. It's ironic that morals and ethicseventually will return to haunt him.

McAllister is unnerved to learn hiscolleague had an affair with Tracy. "He's the type of guy who became ateacher because he never wanted to leave high school," McAllister explains.He then becomes even more worried when he realizes Tracy will win the upcomingschool election and they will have to spend a lot of time together. He tries toinspire Paul Metzler (Chris Klein), the athlete who seems more caring than thearchetypal popular jock, to run for office. "Maybe it's time to givesomething back," he encourages. Metzler eventually decides to run, as doeshis sister Tammy, seemingly just to spite him.

By using coarse dialogue,unexpected viewpoints and freeze-frames at the strangest moments, Payne conveyshis dark humor with a quirkiness that is both amusing and remarkably engaging.

Witherspoon gives the best performance of her young career. Her voiceembodies the determination of someone who will stop at nothing to assure success.The walls of her room are laden with posters fitting for a classroom. The nightbefore the election, her candor is clear when she prays, "Dear Jesus, Ireally must insist that you help me win this election, because I deserveit."

The performances of Broderick and Witherspoon power AlexanderPayne and Jim Taylor's (who collaborated on Payne's first movie, "CitizenRuth") script. Its sophistication and attention to the times rivals JohnHughes' teen classic "Sixteen Candles," and looks even better whencompared with today's teen movies.

This movie is rated R. All those under17 must be accompanied by an adult.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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